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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
 

William Davis, A Day in Old Athens

 

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The Funerals

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Page 6

The Funeral Pyre

 

    So the procession moves through the still gloomy streets of the city,—doubtless needing torch bearers as well as flute players,—and out through some gate, until the line halts in an open field, or better, in a quiet and convenient garden. Here the great funeral pyre of choice dry fagots, intermixed with aromatic cedar, has been heaped. The bier is laid thereon. There are no strictly religious ceremonies. The company stands in a respectful circle, while the nearest male kinsman tosses a pine link upon the oil-soaked wood. A mighty blaze leaps up to heaven, sending its ruddy brightness against the sky now palely flushed with the bursting dawn. The flutists play in softer measures. As the fire rages a few of the relatives toss upon it pots of rare unguents; and while the flames die down, thrice the company shout their farewells, calling their departed friend by name—"Lycophron! Lycophron! Lycophron!"

    So fierce is the flame it soon sinks into ashes. As soon as these are cool enough for safety (a process hastened by pouring on water or wine) the charred bones of the deceased are tenderly gathered up to be placed in a stately urn. The company, less formally now, returns to Athens, and that night there will probably be a great funeral feast at the house of the nearest relative, everybody eating and drinking to capacity "to do Lycophron full honor"; for it is he who is imagined as being now for the last time the host.

 

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/old-athens-funerals.asp?pg=6